Why It Matters: New Hampshire Fish and Game’s biennial rule making session took place earlier this year with many new proposals sent to and approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR). Included in the rules package are new opportunities for Granite State bear hunters. Beginning in 2024, bear hunters will now be allowed to take a second bear in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) C1, D2, E, or F, White Mountains Region. As presented in public hearings, bear populations within the White Mountains Region remain well above management targets. With wildlife managers aiming for a 0.8 bears per square mile target within the region, populations are estimated to be double current goals at roughly 1.6 bears per square miles. To maintain the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire’s bears and reduce bear-human conflicts, it is the Department’s hope that hunters will take advantage of this option in 2024. Additional opportunities in WMUs L and M will also be enjoyed with an additional 23 days of still hunting opportunities. Across the entire state, bear populations remain above goal with the exception of the SW-1 Region where estimates are at goal.
- Effective June 1, 2023, New Hampshire Wildlife Rules and Licenses Permits Final Adopted Rules took effect.
- The rules package included new opportunities for bear hunters which will go into effect in 2024 in WMUs C1, D2, E, or F, White Mountains Region to take a second black bear after registration of the first bear.
- An additional 23 days of still hunting have been added to the bear season in WMUs L and M.
- Bear populations and bear-human conflicts are on the rise in New Hampshire.
- Average annual bear-human conflicts are around 600 according to New Hampshire Fish and Game. From 2017 to 2018 bear-human conflicts nearly doubled from 410 recorded incidents to 800 incidents.
With rising black bear populations, bear sightings and conflicts are becoming more common place. New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife managers made proposals to increase the bear take by offering an additional bear tag to Granite State bear hunters in WMUs C1, D2, E, or F, White Mountains Region where population targets are double where the Department would like to be. Additionally, 23 days of still hunting have been added to the more populated areas of the state in WMUs L and M, the southeast region of the state. These opportunities were approved by the JLCAR earlier this summer. With bears becoming more brazen by way of home and vehicle invasions, predation on back yard fowl coops, and residents leaving wild bird feeders out during the warmer months, managers hope to reign in populations, and decrease conflicts with individual bears that have become habituated to human provided food sources. As bears look to pack on the pounds before denning up during the winter months, conflicts are sure to arise.
“Despite continued pleas asking homeowners not to feed birds during the non-winter months, bird feeders typically are the direct cause of 25% of annual bear-human conflicts. In addition to bird feeders, other attractants that contribute significantly to conflicts include unprotected chickens and other poultry (23%) and unsecured garbage cans/dumpsters (38%).” – New Hampshire Fish and Game.
Bear hunting continues to increase in popularity in the Granite State and hunters have great opportunities to add bear hunting to their fall pursuits and add some of the tastiest wild game to their dinner tables this fall and winter. With hundreds of thousands of acers open to hunting, many within the White Mountains Region, hunters have a great opportunity to fill a New Hampshire bear tag.